Environment and Climate Change

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:36 pm on 1st May 2019.

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Photo of Maggie Throup Maggie Throup Conservative, Erewash 5:36 pm, 1st May 2019

As we have heard, there is much common ground across the Chamber today. Indeed, I am sure there is much common ground across the UK, but the UK cannot tackle climate change or protect the global environment in isolation. We can boast many achievements, but recent weeks have perhaps shown that we have not shouted loud enough about them. Of course, there is always more we can do.

Just last week, I met a Member of the Youth Parliament representing Erewash, Chad Fowkes, to discuss his “Last Straw for Ilkeston” campaign. To help raise awareness of the amount of single-use plastics discarded as litter, Chad has organised a clean-up of the Erewash canal. He shows genuine knowledge and passion for the issues facing our environment and, of course, he persuaded me to help him with the clean-up.

There are many unusual ways in which constituents highlight the issues that concern them. On climate change, one way that grabbed my attention was the handmade messages sent as part of the “Show the Love” campaign, which was far more effective than the hundreds of emails we get every day, and it made me sit up and think about what we are doing to the climate.

There are numerous ways in which we can show leadership in tackling climate change, and one way is through investing in technology. On a recent visit to Ethiopia, in the middle of what we would call scrubland, I saw a few community buildings, one of which had solar panels on its roof with the sole purpose of powering a solar fridge for vaccines. Interestingly, the solar-powered fridge and the associated technology was developed in Bognor Regis. I am sure we can do more to invest in novel technologies to aid developing countries and to increase our exports, which is definitely a win-win situation.

I take this opportunity to congratulate my hon. Friend Alex Chalk on his ten-minute rule Bill yesterday that would create a legal obligation for the UK to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. In doing so, we would be the first G20 country to make such a commitment—2050 may seem a long time away but, thinking back 30 years, 1989-90 does not seem too long ago. The net zero carbon emissions ambition would, yet again, show the world that we, as a nation, are true global leaders.

I said at the start of my speech that we do not shout out enough about our achievements, and I want to finish by talking about some of them in the short time I have left. The year 2008 was Britain’s greenest year ever; the World Health Organisation has said in relation to our clean air strategy that the UK is an example for the rest of the world to follow; and greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 23% since 2010. I could go on and on. We need to shout louder and show that we are a true global leader.